Dog food ingredients explained

The composition section on your dog’s food bag can at times seem frustratingly complex. How can you tell which ingredients are good for your pet’s health? We’d like to help demystify this slightly with the low down on your key dog food ingredients.


Dogs need a protein-rich diet in order to thrive, as protein provides the essential building blocks for growth and repair. It’s hard to overstate the importance of protein as it serves so many functions and is needed for healing, maintaining muscle condition, strengthening bones and so on.

A complete dog food containing 30% protein or more is ideal, while anything above 20% is usually adequate. The protein in your dog’s food can come from a number of sources including meat, plants and eggs, however animal-based protein is thought to be preferable as it contains all the essential amino acids your pet needs and is also highly digestible.


Grains provide a source of carbohydrates for slow-release energy, and gluten (the name given to the proteins found in grains). However, they can cause food allergies, which can manifest themselves as upset stomachs or itchy, flaky skin and a dull coat.

Many dogs can digest grains without a problem – intolerances normally arise when a large proportion of the protein and carbs in your dog’s diet come from a variety of different grains. In grain-free dog foods, grains are replaced by ingredients such as sweet potato and peas, as these are highly digestible sources of carbohydrate and plant protein.


It’s a common misconception that fat is bad. For dogs, as with us, fats are a great source of energy. Fat in dog food also improves the food’s texture and palatability, and supplies key fatty acids such as omega-3 and 6. Fatty acids play a role in cardiovascular and skin and coat health to name just two benefits (there are loads).



Fruit and Vegetables

Fruit and vegetables might seem unlikely dog food ingredients but in actual fact they provide a number of significant nutrient such as dietary fibre and antioxidising vitamins. Fruit and vegetables commonly found in premium brand dog foods include apples, peas and sweet potato.

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